Financial Education for Securities, Banking, & Insurance Professionals.

Success Depends on Executing the Basics

Kirk S. Okumura, ChFC®
Adjunct Professor of Financial Planning
Author-Editor, LUTCF and FSS Programs

In elementary school, students learn basic math skills, for example, how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Success in higher levels of mathematics depends on a student's ability to understand and execute the basics. You cannot solve algebraic equations or calculate probabilities correctly without being able to execute the basics. As it is with math, so it is with success for a financial advisor or insurance agent. Success depends on executing the basics.


The most critical set of basic skills relate to prospecting. In fact, many veterans in the industry repeatedly say, "The number one cause of failure in the industry is a lack of people to see." Whether you are an insurance agent, financial advisor, or fee-only financial planner, you must have a systematic approach to generate a steady stream of qualified prospects whom you can contact and set appointments. The most effective and efficient approach is target marketing.


Target marketing involves focusing either all or the majority of one's efforts on a large group of people who have common characteristics and common needs that correspond to a higher propensity to need, be able to afford, qualify, and be approachable by you. Such a group must have a communication network, either formal or informal. When you target market, you are able to understand your prospects' needs better and implement client service and marketing strategies that are effective and more efficient because they are more focused. The bottom line is that as you help members of a target market, you become known as an expert and you will likely obtain referrals.


Now that we have defined target marketing, how successful are you at it? Take a minute or two to evaluate your efforts by answering the following questions:


  1. What problems do you solve? What needs do you meet?
  2. What unique interests, hobbies, former jobs, and experiences do you have that could add value to how you deliver your products and services?
  3. What are your natural markets?
  4. What does your ideal client look like?
  5. What are your target markets?
  6. How much market research do you conduct?
  7. What is your personal brand?
  8. What is your positioning statement?
  9. What is your value proposition?
  10. What prospecting methods and sources work best for you?
  11. What approaches do you use to create awareness of your products and services? Are they targeted? How effective are they?
  12. What are your prospecting effectiveness ratios? Are you satisfied with them?
  13. Do you differentiate your clients for service purposes?
  14. How do you prospect with service? Are you effective?

If you have difficulty answering these questions or if you are dissatisfied with your production, now may be a good time to review prospecting basics. The American College covers prospecting in FA 200 Techniques for Prospecting: Prospect or Perish course, which is a part of the curriculum for both the LUTCF and FSS designations. Alternatively, perhaps another of our basic skills courses would be helpful. Courses cover such basics as selling skills, the financial planning process, and life-cycle marketing. In addition, there are courses that focus on specific products such as life insurance, disability income.



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